Acupuncture is the use of sterilized stainless steel needles to activate certain points along a meridian or channel on the body. The selection of these points by the practitioner occurs after an evaluation of a patient’s symptoms, pulse, and other parameters mentioned under the initial intake section. These points are chosen to affect the movement of Qi in specific ways in order to work with the systems in the body that are considered out of balance.
These meridian acupuncture points were “discovered” and evaluated over two thousand years of inquiry, experimentation, and clinical observation. These points are located along delineated “lines” or meridians in the body, with specific locations. Over the history of the medicine, these points were found to affect the body and the organ systems in a particular fashion. Hence, in each treatment, they are specifically chosen by the practitioner to create a certain effect on the body and its disharmony.
There are a number of ways an imbalance can happen. Factors can be physical injury, emotional injury, or illnesses with bacterial or viral components. All of these factors challenge the body and lead to a state of “imbalance”. The body then needs assistance in returning to a more harmonious state which can be considered wellness. This is where acupuncture can assist an individual.
After a thorough assessment is done to determine which meridians are involved in the disharmony, acupuncture needles are inserted to influence the flow of this Qi. The acupuncture needles are sterile, one-time use needles that are as fine as a human hair. You can think of them as paddles in a current, directing the flow of the current in certain directions, increasing it where needed, changing the direction of the flow when necessary. The basic idea is to bring more Qi into areas of deficiency, remove Qi from areas of excess, and overall get the Qi moving through areas of stagnation.
We both received our Oriental Medicine Degree from Daoist Traditions College of Chinese Medicine Medical Arts in Asheville, N.C. This is a four year Chinese Medicine program focusing on Acupuncture theory and practice, Western disease theory and medications, Qi Gong, anatomy and physiology, herbal medicine and herbal formulas, and the study of specialties such as pediatrics and gynecology, as well as the use of Essential Oils. This training included a two year clinical internship in a Student Acupuncture Clinic that served the public. Daoist Traditions has a staff of practicing acupuncturists and Western Medical Doctors who teach there. Jeffrey Yuen, a renowned teacher and educator of Chinese Medicine throughout the world, is on the staff of the school. He teaches specialized courses there several times a year.
After graduating, Dennis has received additional training in female gynecological and fertility issues, as well as muscular skeletal pain and dysfunction from a Chinese Medical perspective.
Since graduating, Karen has studied with Jeffrey Yuen in NYC for numerous additional courses. She completed a 2 year course in Advanced Acupuncture as well as 3 years of training in Herbal Medicine to deepen her understanding and use of both. She has also studied the use of Gem Stones to augment healing. She continues studying with Jeffrey Yuen on an on-going basis.
Karen is on the faculty of Daoist Traditions College. She currently teaches Acupuncture Point Energetics; and in the past has taught Acupuncture Point Location and Adjunct Techniques.
Cupping is an ancient Chinese practice where a cup is applied to the skin in such a way that a suction action is created in the area. The superficial muscle layer is then drawn into and held by the cup. Generally the cup is left in place for 5 – 15 minutes. The suction helps to release the stagnation in the soft tissues, loosen adhesions, bring increased blood flow to the area, and drain excess toxins. Historically bamboo cups were used. Now we generally use thick glass cups, though there are plastic models as well. They can either be left on the skin or moved over the skin in order to release and transform stagnation in the area. The cups can be applied to certain acupuncture points as well as regions of the body such as the shoulders or neck area.
Cupping can be used in the treatment of pain, releasing tension and for chronic cough and asthma. It can be used for other disorders as well. The areas of the body that are fleshy are the ones preferred for cupping; the back area is a common cupping site. Cupping can promote blood circulation and help to remove waste products in the area, thus speeding up the healing process, and increasing mobility.
Guasha is also an ancient therapy. It involves scraping the skin with a special tool with a smooth edge like a horn or a special spoon. Guasha is another technique to break up stagnation in an area and help promote the movement of Qi and blood. This bringing blood to an area opens up the pathways for energy to move. The instrument is held at a 30-40 degree angle to the skin and pressure is applied as it is drawn across the skin. This action stimulates the movement of the Qi and blood, and relaxes the tendons and muscles. “Sha” is produced which can be a local redness in the area due to the stimulation of the blood. This technique can be taught to parents for aiding children having respiratory difficulties.
Moxabustion is the use of the herb Artemisia/Mugwort either placed on a needle, or used to warm certain areas of the body through a burning stick of moxa known as a moxa stick. It has a tonifying action on the body and the mind. The heat administered through this treatment is useful in dealing with cold and stagnation in areas of the body. Artemisia grows everywhere, so it is cheap and easy to get. It holds its shape in the form of cones and it burns slowly, producing an even heating that penetrates into the body. It may be used alone or in combination with other modalities, such as acupuncture. The heat as well as the properties of the moxa itself serves to warm the Qi and blood in the channels, move dampness, and help to regulate the organs and restore health. When moxa cones are burned at the end of acupuncture needles, the heat is transferred through the needle into the point. Moxa therapy appears to also bolster immune responsiveness in the body. It is often used for gastro-intestinal disorders, organ weakness, pain syndromes and fatigue.
Electrical Acupuncture or E-Stim
In this type of treatment, needles are inserted on specific points along the body, similar to traditional acupuncture. However the needles are then attached to a device that generates a low intensity pulse of electricity that can be felt like a gentle tapping. Two needles are used at a time so that impulses can pass from one needle to the other. From one to several pairs of needles can be used depending on the intention of the treatment. E-stim treatments are often used for either chronic or acute pain symptoms. Here too the treatment is designed to move stagnation in an area.